Hi, my name is Barbara and I’m a…

Oh, I’m a bad person. Really and truly. I have let so many things go this past month. My blog, my house, my volunteering, my job, my family.
What, I hear you asking, has taken over my life to the exclusion of all else? How, you must be thinking, has this happened? It’s really rather silly and innocuous. Like so many addictions, it’s a simple matter of will-power, right. RIGHT! I’m powerless when I’m near it. I think about it when I can’t have it. I carry it everywhere I go in case I’ll get a moment to indulge my passion. Has anyone guessed my secret shame?
No. Well they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So here goes nothing!
It’s my kindle. I love it. Ha. There, I said it out loud. I LOVE MY KINDLE. Love it. Love. Love. Love. my kindle. Yes I do. In the one month since Christmas I have read approximately 6,000 yes, six thousand pages. I think my family is planning an intervention.
It’s not like reading is a new passion for me. I’ve been reading as long as I can remember. Before I had kids I would devour books. I have lost whole weekends to my passion. So it should really come as no surprise to me that I love my kindle. I was prepared to love it. What I wasn’t prepared for was my total and all-consuming addiction to it.
Before the kindle, I would have to actively seek out reading materials either at the library or bookstore. I don’t even have to do that anymore. Thanks to the thoughful people in kindle development, I simply have to click on the button for the Kindle Store and I am immediately connected to over 800,000 titles. I browse through, select the book I’m most interested in, and click the BUY button. In less than 10 seconds I have a new book.
I need help. Seriously. I fight with my husband. I bargin with my children. Poor Emma wanted breakfast the other morning and I convinced with her to wait 20 minutes so I could use my kindle. What kind of mother does that? I’m a monster!
And I need to be stopped.
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Check your fluids first…

That was the advice that Dad always gave me when I called him with car trouble. Dad was a mechanic; he could fix anything. Our conversations went something like this:

Me: My car sounds funny.

Dad: Funny, how?

Me: It’s making a funny noise when I try to start it.

Dad: What kind of noise, like a click-click, or a whir, what?

Me: I don’t know, a noise. What difference does it make?

Dad: Well, if it’s a click-click it could be…

At about that moment is when I stopped listening and Dad, a man not known for his patience and sensitivity would start to get mad. Jesus Christ Blondie, go try to start the car and call me back and tell me what the noise sounds like.

So rolling my eyes, I would go to the car and try to start it. The call back went something like this:

Me: I think it’s a whirr or maybe a click

Dad: By now completely and totally over me and my bullshit would yell at me.

Does it have gas?

Does it have oil?

Does it have… whatever other liquid can go in a car.

Me, in my infinite me-ness would reply, I don’t know, maybe. How often do you need oil, anyway? I could, I imagined, feel the phone getting hotter in my hand as he got more and more irritated. What, I liked to poke him with sticks. It was like a sport. Don’t judge me.

It would generally turn out that I was out of gas or the one time that I forgot to put the car in park before I shut it off and it wouldn’t start again. Yeah, he drove all the way to Taunton from Boston for that little piece of mechanical mishap. Oops.

By the time my problem was resolved, I had lost him to his temper and annoyance. How many times, he would say, do I need to tell you, YOU ALWAYS CHECK YOUR FLUIDS FIRST! 99 times out of a 100 your problem will be something simple and easy to fix.

The funny thing is, it has become my mantra over the years as I try to solve problems and keep my life on track. I say it at least once a day. People generally look at me like I’m crazy (I know, right) but I explain it’s a reminder to not overlook the obvious. Computer not working. Check the power cords, is everything plugged in correctly? Maybe restart it. Don’t start with a call to the computer repair man. Check the obvious and eliminate that.

Dad was right. That sound you hear, yeah, that’s Dad laughing. Most problems are easily solvable if you just apply a little commonsense – something I had precious little of in my youth. Don’t let the situation overwhelm you. Have a plan for dealing with the problems you will face.

And always, always remember: CHECK YOUR FLUIDS FIRST!

Barbie’s Brain Cells Commit Suicide…

I love to learn. I always have. I didn’t like school but that’s different than learning. Learning is curiosity. Learning is experimentation. Learning is teaching your brain new tricks. I like new thoughts and new ideas. I like the evolution of thought that proceeds advancement in science and music and art and technology. So much good comes from learning.
My work is dull and routine. I’ve gone back to administrative work since it’s local, pays steady, and I have some flexibility with my schedule. It’s not challenging; I don’t learn anything new and some days I can actually feel brain cells dying. I’m not entirely sure whether from natural causes or from boredom. Little Barbie brain cells jumping off the ledge into the abyss to escape the mind-numbing monotony that is my brain at work.
The only thing saving my brain from total annihilation is my volunteer work.
At the urging of the lovely Wendy, I joined the board of the Jordan Hospital Club last February. I’ve done a lot of volunteering prior to joining the board but the JHC is different, it’s personal. Almost 2 years ago, the staff at Jordan saved my life, seriously. Saved it. JHC matters. It makes a real difference in people’s lives and I’m so proud and thrilled to be able to give back. It is made up of the most amazing group of women – smart, talented, opinionated, caring, compassionate. I could go on but this blog is about me and, well, I’m done talking about other people and their amazingness.
I have learned (yeah) incredible things. Well, I continue to learn incredible things about events, about human nature, and about myself. (That’s the best thing to learn about: me!) Maybe one of these days, I’ll write a book, or paint a masterpiece, or (more likely) I’ll just continue to amuse myself and Patrice (she’s my muse or my mascot – not sure which) with my blog posts.
P.S. 24 brain cells were successfully talked in off the ledge during the writing of this blog post!

Resolutions and Resolve! Or why I don’t give a damn that it’s a new year…

A new beginning! A clean slate! A time of resolutions and resolve!
I resolve to what? Work harder; be nicer to my husband; not cuss so much (that’s a request from Emma since she feels I’m not setting the appropriate example as a mother with all my sailor-talk). As if that’s going to happen. All doomed to failure. Really. Seriously.
I know it, even as I think it. You know it, even as you read it. The good intentions of a new year. Well not this year. Not from me. I’m the same today as I was yesterday (maybe better rested since I had a good long nap yesterday). I resolve to do absolutely nothing different this year. I will continue to be a little mean to Pat and swear like crazy. Why? Why not? I’m not going to attain perfection this year. Hell, not even in this lifetime. And, for the first time, I don’t really care. Really. Don’t. Care.
At this stage of my life I’m too busy for self-improvement and introspection. That’s a luxury for people with free-time. I’m not saying that to imply that I have more to do than most. I don’t know if I do or not. I only know that I’m up early every day, I work over full-time, I have kids that need attention, a house that likes to be clean every now and then, two cats, and a dog. I have committee work and fund-raising work that I choose to do. I don’t have free-time. I have wasted time. There’s a difference. If you do not understand the difference you are one of the lucky people that have free-time and can ponder it. Seriously. Email me if you’re not sure. I’ll get right back to you. Honest.
So this year I am not resolute. I am living. I am not all Auld Lang Syne. I am planning. I am not being nicer to Pat. I am his wife. I am not going to swear less. I am colorful. I’m not giving up wasting time. I am me.
Take me or leave me. I have felt the sting of the universe before and I’ll feel it again. It won’t be because of me, it will be in spite of me. I have learned how to take a cosmic punch and believe me, I will not be “resolving” to change myself. I like me. I’m sarcastic and funny and kind of mean (what, I didn’t say I was perfect).
And to 2011 all I can say is: Take your best shot. Other years –better years- have tried and failed. Bring it on, bitch! Let’s see who’s standing next January.